Saturday June 22nd and the Mighty Bumbles were in Scottish Kilmarnock to face opposition old and new.
A beer ban had been put in place the night before by Manager Gooders but with only the goateed one adhering to the rules, the teams had began to get to know each other and rekindle old friendships/disputes over a few shandies.
First up were the two celtic teams. Marching out to bagpipes and through a Bumbles guard of honour, there was anticipation, trepidation and rivalry. Then the game kicked off andll thoughts of friendship were eradicated as each of the three teams had one eye on the Trophy.
With the Clan and the Warriors being Celtic cousins there was a real readiness to send the Saxons (and Celtic spy) back to Yorkshire dragging their chariots behind them and both wanted to send a message in this opening game. With the Bumbles watching eagerly, both started well with an early score by the Welsh as inside centre Neil Parker almost collapsed during a 40m sprint to the line before finally running out of steam in the try zone. Try scored but damage done.
In a see saw game full of big hits, turnovers and great play by the likes of Stephen Frew and Paul Johnstone for the Clan and Richard Evans, Eric Horridge and Ryan Morgan for the Warriors. Perhaps the biggest player though was Huw “the Flash” Jenkins who was using some serious skill playing two blonde Yorkshire girls on the sidelines.
The game was decided in the last minute by a penalty for the Welsh which sailed over for a 13-12 win.
The marker had been set and the Warriors had a win and much confidence going into their game with the Yorkshire outfit.
But this was no ordinary Bumbles team. It was a team with the fire of the Welsh still burning them from one wet and dreary night in March. A team with a point to prove and a score to settle.
With the Warriors brimming with confidence it was the mighty Bumbles who took the game to the Warriors in the early stages. The forwards were in fine form and with pick and go, support play and ball protection worked at specifically since March, there was plenty of clean ball for the back and after feeding the ball down the line at pace and the Celtic bumble being stopped just short of the line, debutant Bumble Andy Boote was on hand for the offload and a simple 5meter finish.
With the extras not added, the Bumbles knew they had to score again and soon but it was the evergreen (some would say Mouldy) Gwilym Lewis who touched down to tie the scores. Game on!
With Andy Boote going off with an ankle injury (he is learning rugby is a mans game) Lisiate Tafa came on for the Bumbles to play at scrum half and other changes were soon influencing the game. Robert Cannon was making try saving tackles, and the man mountain Michael Strathie was using all of his massive physique, combining with Lee Hainswiorth to add more than 40 Stone of man Power to the already impressive forwards. Half of that total thumped the Warriors try scorer to the ground in what was a textbook tackle. A memory for years to come.
After a series of charges by the forwards the ball was popped up to mighty Martin Hodgson who finished from 20m for the lead. Kevin Pringle kicked the points to put the bumbles 12-5 in the lead at half time.
More changes followed for both teams and with Jamie Evans struggling to gain a yard for the Warriors, Eric Horridge, Chris Morgan and Karl Davies were having to take the lead. Liam Carpenter in particular going close after many phases of great play
The Bumbles defence held firm and, James Moore was on hand to race over the line after a series of line breaks and offloads by the slick handed backline. Ryan Kirby added the extras for a great win against a valiant and determined Welsh team.
The game ties the series 2-2 with the Welsh, and sets things up nicely going into next years game at the Hive.
The Clan had been taking note of the win and were next up for the magnificent Bumbles. Whether it was tiredness or overconfidence, or more likely just superb play by the Clan, the Bumbles found themselves 12-0 down after only 10 minutes.
They were shell shocked and looked in real danger of suffering a real beating. But this team has trained hard together, worked together and fought together for quite some time now and testament to their work was the spirit shown to fight back to score, with Martin Hodgson pummelling his way through for a score. Converted by Lee Hainsworth.
A stirring half time team talk the coaches and a different team started the second half. Most of the players were the same but the intensity was ramped up to a level they’d not reached before. Gooders senior was making superb tackles, Dan Cookson was bouncing people onto the turf and Lisiate Tafa, oved to scrum half was seeing plenty of ball, eventually charging over to make the score 12-12. Kick unsuccessful.
5 minutes remained and with injuries mounting, Mark “50 shades” Grey, Ahsan Sakander, Jagtar Bahra, Michael “Tigger” Steadman, Rupert Spode and others were leading the way, getting hands on the ball and arms around the legs of the opposition.
The Clan continued to impress in what was only their second game, and were close to drawing with a more established team until utility back Ben Hall raced clear to touch down in the last five minutes.
With The Clan pushing for the points they needed, Martino “the Italian love machine” Corazza and George Morris were turning ball over, Darryl “the Goat” Wilson, Alex Smith and Gooders Junior were making the hits and Simon Myers was running around tirelessly.
With time ticking away, nerves were jangling but from a scrum, the Bumbles cleared the ball into touch for an historic, hard fought win against a Clan team who should be immensely proud of the way they played in only their second game ever.
Every Bumbles player should be congratulated for bringing the Tri Unions trophy (Ahsans head) back to Yorkshire and can now look forward to defending against the Scots and Welsh in the next tournament!
Thanks to Kilmarnock RFC for wonderful hospitality and a very successful tournament.
To the Warriors and Clan, we look forward to raising the profile of mixed ability rugby with you and renewing friendships/rivalries very soon.
(by Steve Welshboy John)